Then the buzz from the Bailey’s Irish Cream in my coffee gave out and I experienced a creeping dread that these gifts, as sweet as they were might really be tools of damage control considering I drive a 1991 Dodge Dynasty. You know, the one with the Othello Yellow racing stripe on the passenger doors courtesy of a Highway 12 guardrail? The one who’s muffler fell off several months back, several months before the right rear tire exploded on account of not having being rotated since George Bush Senior was in office?
I began to ponder these expensive incidents in relation to my gifts as the smell of Christmas bacon filled our family’s home. My Aunt and Uncle cracked open the first of their morning beers. Several cans of Rainier and a plate of Christmas omelet later I came to a drowsy epiphany on the living room couch:
My half-beloved car, the Dyno, the Dynoceros, Gramps McDrug Dealer, a rolling mixture of pride and shame, was dying. Not all at once, but three, four, five hundred dollars at a time. Trying to keep her running on a blogger’s pittance was a fool’s game, and as everyone knows, trying is always the first step towards failure.
If anything were to go wrong with the Dynasty in the near future that would cost more than a couple hundy to repair, the most financially responsible option would be to scrape off the VINs and find a thick patch of bramble on the outskirts of town. Yes. That was the only thing left to do.
My eyes grew heavy and heavier with the comforting thought of mason jars filled to their brims with pinched pennies. The dolphin air freshener stared at me blankly from within its plastic casing. I fell asleep.
And woke up… in the Dynasty.
Hanging from the rearview mirror was the Dolphin. It swung about, spreading the scent of…dolphin.
“Helloooo, Brandon!” he beamed. “Do you know where you are?”
His voice sounded like an educational mascot, the kind that sugarcoats explanations of the world’s horrors for second graders, crossed with the ghosts of Christmas.
A quick glance out the window revealed it was dawn. We were traveling westbound on Highway 12 nearing Othello. The road was spotted with snow and ice.
“That’s right ass****, you’re reliving the day you drove the Dynasty into a guardrail on the way home for Christmas vacation. At this very moment a poor exchange student back in Pullman is worried sick that your car isn’t equipped with proper snoooww tires – if you had stayed the night she would have made you an omelet in the morning!”
THWACK! Shards of yellow and white paint exploded in a foggy cloud as the Dynasty slid uncontrollably into the guardrail. A hubcap took flight from the impact like an off-kilter discuss. A German girl’s voice yelled something about a sweater I had forgotten. In the rearview mirror a car full of Mexicans traveling behind us was laughing at me.
“They’re right to laugh at youuuu!” the Dolphin wailed, “If you hadn’t been too cheap to buy studded tires the Dynasty would still be in mint condition! And you should have responded to Ladina’s Facebook messages! Whoooo!”
My eyes dropped from the Ford Aerostar in the rearview mirror. I descended into darkness. Just as quickly, the tiny gleam of the Dolphin’s eye appeared in the nothing and began to expand against the black, bringing into focus the light of a new reality - the present.
“Look dowwnnn!” the Dolphin commanded.
He was now full sized. I was riding him, looking down upon my sleeping body in the living room with my car gifts.
“Ohhhh, Brandon! There you are, surrounded by the choicest holiday presents from Schuck’s Auto Supply, and all you can think about is how much money you would save by pushing the Dynasty into a braaamble patch!”
“Could we skip to the vision of the future,” I snipped impatiently, “I need to wake up and catch the game pretty soon here.”
“Very well,” the Dolphin said forebodingly, “Hold on!”
With a mighty flip of his tail we rode off into the instant black nothingness once again, only this time there was a long awkward pause while we waited for the next vision to take form. Without a scene to narrate, and possibly because I was riding him bareback in my pajamas, the Dolphin fell uncomfortably silent.
“So…” I offered, “Is it cool leaving a trail of rainbow glitter wherever you go?”
“It sucks” the Dolphin replied defensively, “I’m totally not into that sort of thing.”
“What sort of thing?”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Uh… how about that vision of the future?”
“Yeah, how about that?”
The Dolphin tossed me off his back and with a mighty flip of his tale batted me into the darkness. I awoke back on the couch in the living room, the smell of bacon still rife in the air. At my feet the Dolphin sat lifeless in his package. But upon it there was a note that hadn’t been there before. It read:
No man is poor in spirit who spends money on a car he loves but can’t afford. The future begins now, by installing those new spark plugs in the Dynasty.
If you’re really that broke, just take the insurance off it and watch your ass.